Two Catholics in southern Louisiana took another step toward holiness this week, thanks to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The bishops voted overwhelmingly to advance the cause of the beatification and canonization of lay Catholics Servant of God August “Nonco” Pelafigue, from Arnaudville, and Servant of God Charlene Richard, from the Richard community of Acadia parish.
The vote took place at the fall bishops meeting in Baltimore this week.
Pelafigue was a teacher and catechist who died at 89 in 1977. Richard was only 12 years old and was a schoolgirl when she died of leukemia in 1959.
A prepared statement from the diocese said Bishop Douglas Deshotel, Bishop of Lafayette, addressed his brother bishops on Wednesday to tell them the stories of the two devoted Catholics, who each in different ways inspired others to dedicate themselves to the Catholic faith.
Richard died at Notre-Dame de Lourdes Hospital some 16 days after being diagnosed with a fatal illness, but offered his suffering to God and prayed for the healing and conversion of others.
Pelafigue, who as a child in 1889 moved with his family from France to Arnaudville, was devoted to the Apostleship of the League of Prayer and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A humble teacher, he lived for years in a small cabin in Arnaudville, walking the roads of this community distributing leaflets on the Sacred Heart.
Both have dedicated local followers.
“It was a joyful moment to hear a unanimous voice supporting our pursuit of the two causes to beatify and canonize the two local parishioners of our diocese,” said Deshotel. “Many bishops who had never heard of Charlene and Nonco told me how inspired they were by their holy life. It is significant that the request came from the local people who knew them. good.
The two join Reverend Verbis Lafleur, who served as a priest at Opelousas and Abbeville, as candidates for the Diocese of Lafayette on parallel paths to canonization. Lafleur’s cause was ratified by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops earlier this year at their Spring 2021 Plenary Assembly.
Lafleur was a military chaplain during WWII when he was taken prisoner by the Japanese. When the ship he was traveling on was bombed and started to sink, he sacrificed his own life to save others.
The bishops’ vote marked the second leg of the three-step journey to canonization. The process passes to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican in Rome, which will document in detail the lives of the three candidates and investigate any miracles attributed to their intercession.
Charles Hardy, a great-nephew of Pelafigue and president-elect of the August “Nonco” Pelafigue Foundation, said the next step, presenting the cases to the Vatican, would not take place until at least next year.
“But that motivated our team,” he said of this week’s developments. “It’s like the icing on the cake; he begins the preparation for the Vatican.